ORLANDO, Fla. –
Capt. Edwin Gomez already lived a full life before coming to the United States. In a stable career as an officer in the Ecuadorian Air Force, Gomez had everything he wanted while serving his birth country. However, this all changed on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.
While returning from class at the Ecuadorian Armed Force’s version of intermediate level education, he entered the common area’s recreation room where some of his classmates were gathered around a television screen.
“At first I thought it was a scene from a movie,” said Gomez, as he watched in disbelief as news footage from the United States showed a grim picture. “I could not believe what I saw.”
Gomez was witnessing history as the terrorist attacks against the United States played out on the screen before him. It was at that moment that the course of his life would change. Without a second thought, Gomez decided that he would do whatever was in his power to take the fight to “the enemies of democracy.”
Leaving the only life he knew, Gomez laid out a new path for himself. “I will resign my commission in the Ecuadorian Air Force, come to the United States, join the United States Army, and fight against the terrorists,” he planned. “They did not just attack the United States, but the whole human race.”
Gomez traveled to the United States with little more than a basic understanding of the English language, but he knew enough to be able to walk into an Armed Forces Recruiting Station and raise his right hand to swear an oath of allegiance to his new country.
Working tirelessly, Gomez built a new identity for himself in the United States. He re-dedicated himself to his studies and earned advanced degrees in mechanical engineering from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also restarted his military career serving as an enlisted Soldier before attending Officer Candidate School to become an officer. Prior to his current assignment, Gomez served as a civil affairs officer with the United States Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command.
Throughout the past 20 years, Gomez has pushed tirelessly to be the best version of himself that he can be. He has achieved many of his goals that he planned that Tuesday morning in 2001 and is close to realizing more.
Of those goals, one had him looking to the stars. “A dream since childhood has been to be an astronaut and the United States Army has helped me along the way,” he says. In fact, Gomez was most recently selected as the United States Army’s candidate for consideration into NASA’s 2021 Astronaut class.
Although he was not selected into the program, Gomez still strives to better himself and make the cut.
“Every day I am working towards my doctorate in mechanical engineering at MIT which will strengthen my resume in hopes of being accepted into NASA’s Astronaut Program,” Gomez says.
Gomez currently serves as the commander of the 470th Quartermaster Company (Brigade Aerial Delivery Support Company) based in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and credits the events of 9/11 for setting him on a new path.
“I am thankful to the United States for changing my life,” said Gomez. “I am proud to wear this uniform, wear the American Flag on my shoulder, and live the American Dream.”